Lulu Anderson had the typical US consumer 20s: debt, an expensive Boston lifestyle, an 80k+ salary, and she could never get ahead financially. After years of struggling to find a balance, she finally paid off her debt. One week later, she went on a three-week vacation to Indonesia. At the end she decided she wouldn’t go back and so she went all in: quit her job, entrusted her belongings to friends and family to embrace the nomadic backpacker life. Since then she has looped completely around the world and is figuring out what blend of freelance, volunteering and lifestyle really works for her. You can find her online at Lulakilla; learn more about her digital marketing career and lifestyle here!
In this series, we’re exploring the various careers of world travelers, and how they make ends meet financially while living abroad. Yes, financially sustainable full-time travel is possible!
This post was originally published in 2017. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
I bought a laptop in Thailand in October 2015; a few months later I started reaching out to old clients and friends in The States for digital marketing freelance opportunities. I did it all: Instagram growth hacking, content writing, social media assistance. Through all that I found volunteer work with dogs, a few work for trade opportunities and hopped around the globe: Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Africa, and currently, South America. (See also: Working in Trade for Free Accommodation Around the World)
Please describe what you do for income.
I freelance with a few digital marketing clients – email, websites, social media, paid social advertising, brand management.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
5-15 freelance hours with digital marketing weekly. 5-15 hours weekly volunteering with dogs. 4 hours weekly studying Spanish.
How much money do you make?
I make $70 per hour. A year ago when I was trying to scrape by I started at $22 per hour; I knew this was well below my worth but I had to get the hang of digital marketing freelance work, figure out my brand, and walk away from a few asshole clients. 🙂
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
I make more than enough currently. Living with my boyfriend in Argentina basically leaves me with no housing costs (I split all home expenses, but he already owns the house).
With the money I am saving, I am looking into opening a 501c3 and funding a dog rescue sanctuary.
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
I like the room I have to grow. I have this ability to design my life and choose how each hour is spent. I am happy with very little material possessions (as proved over one year living out of a 50L bag), and so my digital marketing salary doesn’t correlate directly to my happiness.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
There are many challenges, over the 15 months where I was traveling I stayed 1-2 months in a location but always missed a sense of “home”. Now I have one with my boyfriend and that longing is gone, but I have the necessity to learn a new language to fit in. I have to work much harder to make connections – as an introvert this is a daunting task.
“On the road” I felt lonely at times, here in Argentina I feel a little too dependent on my boyfriend (he grew up here). With my digital marketing career, I generally don’t get too frustrated – but that is because I limit the time I work. I do wish there was a co-working space here in Catamarca though.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
Currently I can stay in Argentina for 90 days and then need to leave (you can return the next day if you like – not like Schengen Zone). I am currently in the US learning more about non-profits and seeing the people I am missing, family, friends, vegan-friendly restaurants…
After that, I am back to Argentina – my long term dream is to have a dog nonprofit where I am making global change, including travel.
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
I have worked for trade at a co-working/co-living space, a dive shop, a circus hostel and in exchange for teaching English – I have volunteered in over six countries in the last two years. Not only do you meet people, you save money in many of these arrangements. I highly recommend this for any travelers, especially those interested in slow travel, not just backpacking through countries.
(Nora’s Note: I couldn’t agree more! I’ve had so many amazing travel experiences this way, and free accommodation no less! It’s a win win. Check out: How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World )